Celebrating CSC’s Early Intervention Team

The Early Intervention (EI) team at Cleveland Sight Center provides direct services to infants and toddlers with vision loss and their families by individually assessing children and educating parents on how their child’s vision affects all areas of development. The EI specialists help parents and caregivers adapt their home environment and teach them specific strategies to maximize their child’s development through unique individualized plans.

The EI team ended 2021 with five employees, three full-time and two part-time. Three months into 2022 and down two full-time EI specialists due to a retirement and a departure, the team was worried about their ability to continue serving all of the families on their caseloads. The idea of having a waiting list for families was brought up, but the team gave a firm “no.”

So, as a team of three, they each took on a larger caseload to make sure no family had to go without CSC’s quality services. Two part time staff increased their hours to stretch the team’s capacity.

“Because they were just so dedicated, and they really stretched themselves, we did not have to go the waitlist route or prioritize diagnoses or severity of the conditions of the children,” said Laurie.

An early intervention specialist smiles as a child in her caseload lays in her lap.


Additionally, on top of the higher caseloads, the EI team took on the challenge of recruiting, hiring and training two new staff members in the middle of the year.  Filling the open positions was challenging because one has to hold a Developmental Specialist certification through the Ohio Department of Developmental Disabilities to be an Early Intervention Specialist.  While it is a special certification for infant-toddler specialists, it is not very well known or a common program at many colleges or universities.

Because this Developmental Specialist certification is unique, it can be difficult to find a qualified candidate, especially one that has a background in helping children with visual impairments. The Early Intervention team at CSC also had to provide training and shadowing for the two new hires for months before they were able to take on cases by themselves.

With all of these challenges occurring, three of our EI staff members were either finishing or beginning intense university programs in order to earn additional licensures as Teachers of the Visually Impaired (TVI) or Certified Orientation and Mobility Specialists (COMS).  These licensures will help strengthen the EI program and enhance the breadth of services we can provide to children and families.

With all the various obstacles the Early Intervention team had to deal with over the past year, they persevered and were still able to serve 181 families in 2022.

“The team always downplays the amazing work they did in 2022,’’’ said Laurie. “But, I don't think you're going to find people that are more dedicated, focused and willing to help each other than we have at Cleveland Sight Center.”